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to his own originality. They have borrowed nothing from the great masters of English literature; they have but caught inspiration from their inspiration; they have been aided by them to think with decision and to speak with fearlessness. The thoughts which they express and the form of the expression are their own, are Slavonian; their literature is as distinct from that of any other people, as the English is from the French, or either of these from the Italian.
Julian Niemcewicz is the link between the old time and the new. His fame as a poet, and his sufferings as a patriot, date from the reign of Stanislaus Poniatowski. Like most of the distinguished writers of Poland, Niemcewicz won honors in the fields both of poetry and history. He essayed, indeed, and with success, every branch of literary composition. He was a dramatist, a novelist, a satirist, a writer of fables, of epigrams, of idyls; but, before all things else, he was a Pole. Niemcewicz never practised poetry as an art; he valued the gifts of fancy, and the power of expression, only as these furnished him with weapons against the enemies of his country, or gave him the means of reaching the hearts of her sons. Accordingly, a great part of his poems are written with an especial political aim; and many of the pieces which were most popular in their time are so connected with the politics of the period, and often so dependent for their interest on the passing events of the day, that they are scarcely to be appreciated out of Poland, and perhaps, in another age, will hardly be so, fully, even there.
Niemcewicz was a patriot after the manner of a former age. His love of his country is equalled only by his hatred of her foes. This passionate ardor in love and hate, which lends an added inspiration to his verse, detracts from his merits as a faithful historian. He dwells with glowing delight upon the triumphs of his country, but traces with a lighter touch the story of her reverses and her errors. His most celebrated work is the "Spiewy Historyczne," in which he unites the characters of bard and annalist. This work, though written in the spirit of a past time, must ever be regarded as a noble monument of genius and patriotism, and
* Born 1755, died 1841.
confers upon Niemcewicz the right to stand with the highest names in Polish literature.
The life of Niemcewicz was in itself a poem. His long career knew every vicissitude of human fate. A large portion of his life was passed in banishment from the land he so ardently loved. But amid all his reverses and wanderings, the thought of Poland, and the hope of yet working in her cause, went with and sustained him. His first exile was selfimposed. He quitted his country in sorrow, after the failure of the constitution of 1791, but returned to bear a part in the brilliant achievements of Kościuszko, and to share his prison after the fatal day of Maciejowice. Restored to freedom, he refused the clemency and the liberality of Paul, and, passing once more into exile, remained for ten years a stranger to his native soil. He returned to Poland in 1807, but the fall of Napoleon made him, in 1815, again a wanderer. Ardent longing for his country, and the hope, not yet relinquished, of serving her within her own borders, drew him irresistibly homeward. Niemcewicz listened to the promises of Alexander, and for a season, in common with many sincere patriots, believed that Poland might at least know peaceful days under the sway of Russia. This faith deceived, he entered zealously into those combinations against the existing government which resulted in the insurrection of 1830, whose unsuccessful issue drove him once more into exile, this time destined to be perpetual. Niemcewicz closed at Paris, in 1841, his stormy life, whose history covers nearly a century.
The extended career of this author has connected him with the writers of the present time. In spirit he belongs to the past; but rather to the ancient day of Poland's literary splendor, than to the cold, artificial period in which the lot of his own early days was cast.
Before we pass to the living writers of Poland, we must yet give the names of two authors whose works belong to our own century, and who are in spirit closely united with the modern school of Polish poetry, but who have been by death prematurely numbered with the past. These are Antoni Malczewski, a poet of the Ukraine; and Casimir Brodziński, Professor of Polish Literature in the University of Warsaw, before the insurrection of 1830. Malczewski was born in Wolynia, in 1792. He received his education at
Krzeminiec, and by his talents and distinguished diligence won the particular regard of the celebrated Czacki, the founder of that college. Malczewski had just completed his academic career at the time of the invasion of Russia by Napoleon. He entered the army of the French emperor as a volunteer, and served during the disastrous campaign of 1812. After the overthrow of Napoleon, he passed several years in travelling through the various countries of Europe. During his foreign sojourn, he formed acquaintance with the literature of England; his mind was particularly impressed with the genius of Lord Byron, then at the height of his popularity. This influence is plainly to be traced in his writings. Malczewski is, however, no imitator; he is one of the most original of Slavonian poets; a true son of the Ukraine, full of fire and of gentleness.
The fame of Malczewski as a poet rests upon his "Maria," a poem which, little appreciated during the life of the author, has become since his death the object of the warmest admiration of his countrymen. Maria is a narrative poem founded on an actual event. The story is shortly this. The son of a Polish magnate has married the daughter of a nobleman of ancient family, but narrow fortune. The Wojewode, enraged at his choice, refuses to sanction the alliance, and endeavours to persuade him to abandon his bride, and to break his marriage. His attempts to shake his son's resolution are fruitless; but the old Miecznik (sword-bearer), the father of Maria, as proud as the magnate, refuses, on his part, to receive the young Wacław as his son-in-law, until the Wojewode shall himself make overtures for a reconciliation. The father of Wacław, despairing of compelling him to obedience, feigns compliance. Affecting to be overcome by the grief and the entreaties of his son, he feigns to reconcile himself with the Miecznik, and sends Wacław, under the command of this old warrior, to repel an incursion of the Tatars, that he may prove himself, by knightly deeds, worthy of the hand of Maria. Wacław obtains a victory over the Tatars, and hastens home in triumph to claim his bride. The treacherous Wojewode, however, has, during the absence of his son, sent a party of armed servants to the house of the Miecznik with orders to take the life of Maria. When her husband returns, it is to find her murdered.
The characters in this poem are sketched with great life.
this philosopher developed the system of the physical world, and men may no longer consider this earth as the central point of the universe, even so was it the mission of Poland to reveal to the world that nations should no more regard each itself as the centre of all that surrounds it, but that each, holding its own place, and keeping its just balance, should form a part of one great whole, each separate nationality circling round the great central idea of humanity.
"O my people! this thought, this destiny, take thou upon thee to fulfil, or for ever to descend into the tomb! Shouldst thou also thus perish, even so dost thou perfect thy last mission, and, with the palm-branch in thy hand, shalt thou come to Christ, thy Master!"
Brodziński survived not many years the last disappointment of his country's hopes. He died at Dresden, in 1836, deeply mourned; for he had been beloved, even with enthusiasm, by those who shared the privilege of knowing him. They who sat under his teaching yet cherish his memory with reverent affection, and recall, with sad delight, his gentle and eloquent tones, and the angelic light that beamed from his pale, spiritual features.
The author of the works the titles of which we have prefixed to this article was a student at the University of Warsaw during the professorship of Brodziński; and the influence of the genius and character of this excellent man is, we think, plainly to be traced in the writings of his pupil. It is with this author, one of the most remarkable, though one of the youngest of their number, that we propose to begin our sketches of the living writers of Poland.
His name has never been formally given to the public; it is, however, no secret to his countrymen. He is known to be a son of one of the noblest and most ancient families of Poland, and allied either by birth or by marriage to the most powerful magnates of the land. This circumstance is not to be lost sight of in reading his works; it is necessary to the full appreciation of an author, that we should know the point of view from which he looks upon the world. It is, besides, a fact full of significance and of hope for Poland. It shows what she may expect of her privileged children, when the day of her restoration at length arrives; it proves that their longsuffering has not been without its fruit, that they are substi
tuting a wise patriotism for an unreasoning and selfish nationality, that her aristocracy no longer regard themselves as the whole nation, but have learned, that, in order rightly to love one's country, it is needful to love even the humblest of her sons. Through all the works of the author of "Przedświt " and the "Nieboska Komedyia," breathes a spirit truly liberal, thoroughly humane, and profoundly religious. He accepts in its entireness the Christian law, and looks forward with a confident hope to the time when this law shall be not merely the rule for the conduct of individuals, but shall govern in the councils of states, and be heard from the throne and the senate-house.
Przedświt (Morning Twilight) is the last published of the works of this author. As his other writings are in the dramatic form, and his character and opinions are rather to be inferred than directly gathered from them, we shall begin our selections from his works with some extracts from the Preface to this poem, that the reader may form an acquaintance with the mind and cast of thought of the poet before proceeding to the consideration of his dramatic compo
In the Preface to the Przedświt, the author draws a parallel between the condition of the ancient world immediately before the time of Cæsar and that of the modern world before the coming of Napoleon. He believes, that, as the ambition and conquests of Cæsar made the path smooth for the reception of the Christian religion, it was, in like manner, the office of Napoleon to prepare the world, not indeed for a new revelation, but for the more perfect reception of the Christian doctrine, and for its introduction into the political sphere.
"During the day of Cæsar, preceding the great day of Christ, the world had arrived at the last results of its history; in religion, to absolute doubt, in philosophy, to the entire overthrow of the principles of polytheism. Augur laughed at augur, the Greek sophist at himself. The critic Reason annihilated all ancient faith, all existing life among the people, and established nothing more living, or equally living, in its place. The view into the world of the soul discovered only ruin, license, discord; — quot capita, tot sensus. Epicureanism, Stoicism, Platonism, passed like phantoms over the widowed breast of humanity. After so many wars, proscriptions, and revolutions, there remained in the hearts of men only a sense of weariness and exhaustion. All political faith